How often are you complimented on something and feel either embarrassed or undeserving? Too often if you are anything like me.
I was out in a cosy bar recently with a good friend of mine. He came back to the table after going to the loos and said that a guy in there had asked if he was with the “blonde” that he was sitting with (me). My friend said no. The guy said “she’s mint”. ‘Mint’ being a kind of slang for something good or attractive (do tell me if I am wrong, I am terrible with slang). At first I thought, well that’s nice I guess, not that I’m interested or anything.
As the night went on, I thought about it more, trying to rationalise it. I said to my friend, “He probably only said that because he’s a bit drunk or something.” My mate said to not be so silly and take the compliment as it is – a compliment!
As somebody that received Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), I know all about why I try to rationalise a compliment.
My therapist told me that as a person with BDD, my thoughts about myself are metaphorically one shape (say, a triangle). If somebody tells me something (in this instance, a compliment), that compliment is a metaphorical ‘square’ shape, making it not fit in with my ‘triangle’ thoughts. So, when I rationalise a compliment (by turning it into something negative), I’m turning it into a ‘triangle’ shape, so that it fits in with my way of thinking. (I hope all that made some sort of sense).
Clearly I still have this way of thinking, though thankfully not to the extent I had it when I was 15.
I’m not sure why it’s part of our culture to be so humble. I get that one shouldn’t be constantly bragging about themselves to anybody that’ll listen – but we should be able to celebrate our successes and accept compliments when they are given to us.
So, if you are like me and try to rationalise a compliment, or even try to return a compliment by giving an even better compliment, let’s vow to stop such nonsense and do the following instead:
Just say “Thank you.”
That’s all you need to do.
You don’t need to return the compliment (unless of course it’s genuine and you want to). You also don’t need to one-up their compliment – “You’re so pretty!” “But you’re so much prettier!” – none of that. You certainly shouldn’t be overthinking it or trying to turn it into a throwaway comment. Take it as it is, you deserve it!
For a lot of us, there’s something in our minds telling us that we don’t deserve praise, and that the person giving us said compliment is either feeling sorry for us or maybe even lying (flattery gets you everywhere and all that). Though it’ll be a hard thought process to change, try to ignore that inner-voice and own that compliment. Treat it as a small gift for your self-esteem.
To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance.
– Oscar Wilde
I would also suggest that you give out compliments more. If you particularly like something about someone then go ahead and say something to them! As long as it’s not fake (or creepy), people love being appreciated for their work or their achievements – a genuine compliment can really make somebody’s day.